Sunday, July 24, a rain delay in Cleveland kept the Seattle Mariners, then 42-54, off the TV, and we got boxing instead. It gave me time to consider what one of my 27 readers said to me not long ago: that I'm "too fluggin' negative" about his beloved M's.
Chastened, I decided to stop watching the TV pugilists trying to consign the other to life in a care facility. Instead, I listed all the positives I could think of about your '05 M's.
1. They're only the third-worst team in the American League.
2. Yes, they have the lowest team batting average in the AL, but the M's would only be fourth-lowest if they played in the National League.
3. Team pitching is a bright spot, with Seattle ranking ninth in earned-run average among the 14 AL clubs. Then again, with the trade deadline approaching in a few days, the M's could be playing without their low-ERA guys, Eddie Guardado, Ron Villone, etc.
4. Uh, nobody in the organization has been accused of outing any CIA agents?
It was good that the game eventually came on, because I was running out of thumbs-up stuff. Three hours later, the M's had lost, 6-3, ending a 1-5 road trip. They were 42-55. Their team batting average had dropped, and the ERA had gone up. They were still third-worst in the league but, on the plus side, CIA spies everywhere remained anonymous.
The kill shot in the final Cleveland game was a three-run line-drive home run, off J.J. Putz, that barely cleared the right-field wall. By then, the M's had managed just two hits, even though they actually led 2-1 for a while. Loser Aaron Sele (6-11) was left in about an inning too long, especially since the M's bullpen seemed fresh enough to need work.
Coming home to three each with Detroit and Cleveland, the M's headline had less to do with how they'd played than who'd be traded. As I file this Monday morning, July 25, every M's player but Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, and the resurgent Richie Sexson has "take me" posted where playoff-competitive teams can see it. Each of the above had long balls in Cleveland—Ichiro's a late-inning rainbow that earned the one road-trip victory. Beltre's came at garbage time in the ninth Sunday. Grinning at the plate prior to his mammoth smack into the left-field seats, the third baseman evidently found it amusing that he stood there hitless in his previous 14 at-bats. The long ball left him at .256. Sexson is hitting .265 but has 23 home runs to Beltre's 11. First-sacker Sexson is at, or beyond, his career average in most categories, but the equally well-paid Beltre needs a strong August and September to give management and fans what was expected. Offensive production has been the main negative this year, since the M's usually win when they manage just four runs in a game.
Hey, but let's stay positive, right? OK, so I'm positive things can't get much worse for this franchise.